Managing White Pine Mike Leonard
April 9, 2009


I'm fascinated by the work you've done on white pine in this issue and
the last issue. I agree that most foresters mark white pine
dominants/codominants way before they should. The tremendous volumes
white pine can attain makes you wonder why most foresters aren't more
patient. Well I meant those foresters who really are representing a
landowner's long term interest. This research you are doing could help
influence state forest policy and help other practicing foresters!

I recently learned a lesson on managing white pine. On a 20 acre woodlot
in Oakham I marked an improvement cutting on a mostly white pine stand
with some red oak, white oak, and red maple. It had been cut about 15
years ago so there was a lot of white pine/hardwood regeneration. I've
been using mostly mechanized timber harvesting operations (whole tree
harvesting/biomass which landowners love because they don't like the
amount of slash left by conventional timber harvesting operations) over
the last few years to thin my clients' woodlots. So on this lot I used
one and the majority of the nice white pine regen was destroyed. I only
marked about a 1/3 of the volume and the residual stand looks great
consisting of the better white pine with some nice scattered red oak and
white oak. But with the bigger grapple skidders these operations use
which means wider skid roads it's a tradeoff: very little slash versus
more regen.  In retrospect I would have used a forwarder operation which
would have saved the majority of the regen. Overall I'm happy with the
job with the beautiful residual stand that was left with scant damage to
the high quality crop trees (because of the use of low quality bumper
trees along the main skid roads) but if the goal is to create an
maintain an uneven aged forest then a smaller operation would have been
more appropriate. This proves there is a silvicultural limit (as well as
many operational limits) to biomass improvement cuttings. There is still
room for the small conscientious logger with a small machine! But make
no mistake about it, a good biomass market is absolutely essential if we
want to improve private woodlots from past highgrading depravations. The
bottom line for me is that I don't give a damn where the wood goes (the
hell with the local mills!) as long as I can improve my clients'

Next I'll be marking a 60 acre lot that was devastated by the ice storm.
In this case I'll be marking the leave trees and yes I'll be a needin'
that chippin' crew!
I don't give a damn about global warming! I'm just trying to survive!


[Bob Leverett, April 10, 2009]


    We all salute your dedication and efforts to do the right thing by your client's forests and woodlots. We hope independents such as yourself and Joe will be able to make it. Someone out there needs to actually practice good forestry and keep the art alive.

    One of my originl objectives in getting the pine groves in MTSF set aside for research purposes was that I saw faster growth than what I had gathered was expected by lumberman and even foresters. I think part of the confusion about volume growth centers around radial increase for the bigger trees. That has been where I've focused a lot of my research and with a set of laser directed calipers on the way will increase the white pine volume analysis and will keep the rest of you updated.

    I haven't had much luck attracting the attention of the the state's management foresters to my work. I suspect this comes as no surprise to you, but you'd think I'd get a nibble of interest now and then. Alas, such as not been the case.


[Mike Leonard, April 1, 2009]

Thanks Bob,

We are doing our best. And White Pine wasn't called "King Pine" for

Too often white pine is harvested when it achieves a certain size rather
than when it attains its maximum economic potential. At the Quabbin
Reservoir Watershed their primary objective is to protect water quality
so they are encouraging a diversity of age and size classes but a 90
year "rotation" for white pine? Give me a break. I also have problems
with their recent change in silviculture - from area wide thinnings to
2-3 acre "group" selection cuttings. The group selection cuttings are
easier for the mechanized operators (as well as their foresters) but as
I've said before checkerboarding the landscape with these mini-clearcuts
does not mimic any kind of natural disturbance I know of.

 DCR has published some excellent guides to the watershed forests. Check
out . If you
click on  North Quabbin Reservation under the list for Bike Trails it
produces a map of some fine bike routes. Sun and I used the guide a few
weeks ago to pedal through a magnificent multi-aged white pine forest
there. So the Quabbin foresters have done good work in the past. If we
could get all state and private forest land to practice forestry like
this it would be paradise! Alas there are still many hurdles ahead to
achieve that forest nirvana.

Well Sun and I have to get ready for the River Rat Race! It's the crazy
5 mile canoe race from Athol to Orange. Three hundred canoes will fight
for the honor to be named River Rat King and Queen! We may not be
crowned but we're sure gonna have a hell of a time trying'! Afterwards,
we'll pop a few at the big party in Orange. Yeah River Rat Day - my
favorite day of the year!


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